Public pools can cause major sickness, steps to keep from getting sick

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. - Potentially record-breaking temperatures this summer means big business for public pools. 

Dianne Hoover, Director of Bakersfield Recreation & Parks, says the McMurtrey Aquatic Center has seen more people come to swim this year than ever before. 

More people using these pools could also mean the spread of germs such as Recreational Water Illness. 

According to the Center for Disease Control, Recreational Water Illness (RWI) is caused by germs spread by swallowing, breathing in, or having contact with contaminated water in pools, hot tubs, water parks, and other bodies of water.

Symptoms of RWI include a variety of infections such as skin, ear, eye, respiratory and gastrointestinal. However, the most common symptom is diarrhea.

The CDC requires that public pools check their chlorine and pH levels in the water daily, but the staff at McMurtrey conducts hourly tests to ensure safety. 

“You can have someone get in the water with an illness,” Donna Fenton, Chief Environmental Specialist tells 23ABC.  “And it will spread to people because there isn’t enough disinfectant in the water to clear the germs.”

There are some simple steps anyone can take to avoid getting sick in the pool, including:
-showering with soap before entering a pool
-keep toddlers in appropriate swim diapers
-use the restroom every 30 minutes, and change diapers frequently
-drink plenty of water before swimming
-if you are sick, stay home

“One person is all it takes to contaminate an entire swimming pool,” says Fenton.
If you suspect that a public pool is not maintained appropriately you are urged to call the Kern County Public Health Department for a free inspection at 321-3000

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